Two decades in the making, fire rushes as Ardent Nova unleash melodic death/thrash on debut

Heavy metal has become so many different things, and the emotions it conjures is so varied that the experiences one can have with the music runs the gamut. Many of the artists who created the foundations did so with music that drive energy through your body and temporarily made you feel invincible. Or at least it increased that sense of adventure in which you could get lost.

Ardent Nova might be a newer name to many listeners, but their journey to their self-titled debut record is two decades in the making. Originally formed as Pagan Thunder, the band—vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Mike Pardi, drummer Ryan Gallagher—later morphed into this current version/name Ardent Nova that could unite Amon Amarth and Bathory fans in a beer hall with swords raised. The nine tracks on this record are fiery and rousing, feeling like anthems here to light the fires of metallic glory in your heart just like Maiden, Priest, and Dio did decades earlier.

“Intro” feels like the first strains toward storming a castle, synth glazing, the suspicion an army of orcs might be around the corner, and then it’s into “Rise From the Ashes” that just unloads. Vicious howls  and melodic fire gasp, the choruses rush by with dramatic power and wrenching madness. The energy never quits as the guitars fire away , the playing sprawls, and you’re left gasping for air. “Pagan Thunder” charges and pumps blood, raucous energy exploding and racing toward the battle. The chorus is simple but effective, and later when the band gang shouts, “Hey!” it feels like you want to grab your sword and do some damage. “Stronger Than Time” trudges through devastation, bleeding power and bringing the fire with it. “Warriors, we ride! Rise! Rise!” Pardi howls as the playing gets more electric, and the smoke from the carnage coats your lungs. “Sound the Horns” has synth rising, and then the lid rips open, the track catching incredible spirit that carries it along. The chorus easily can raise your blood pressure, and from there the blistering playing and infectious melodies drive this thing home.

“Chieftain” starts off like an Iron Maiden song, the playing galloping hard on the plains with reckless abandon. The growls are gnarly as the guitars speed along, the chorus making things more reflective but still heavy as hell. The riffs continue the race, and the final moments add to the adrenaline surge. “In Darkest Ages” punches open as the playing hits hard, storming and creating a mass of chaos. The band hits on all cylinders here, the soloing blazing with multiple colors, the chugging insanity digging deep into your chest, surging blood as everything comes to a fiery end. “Ardent Nova,” the band’s instrumental anthem, jumps in with rushing guitars, a thrashing feel, and the leads knifing through the center point. The power continues to amplify its strength, and the final moments explode with the proper amount of savagery and glory. “Eternal Liberty” is listed as a bonus track, and you should get whatever version this song is on because it’s awesome. Strong riffs and glistening synth unite, Pardi wailing, “Raise the pillars of tomorrow!” Vicious and catchy, the soloing burns through worlds, the playing crushes, and the record ends on a devastating note.

Two decades in the making, Ardent Nova’s debut full-length offering finally seeing the light of day is another boost to those who want high-energy death and thrash metal. These songs sound huge, and live they could whip up a fervor in their audience that could be really fun and infectious. This is awesome stuff, and hopefully Ardent Nova get another serving up to us sooner than later.

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